All right, we’re back for the next instalment of my top ten TV episodes list. Please feel free to let me know exactly how wrong I am on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments.
7) Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Conversations with Dead People
I really liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I actually had a hard time thinking of an episode that I found truly memorable. I know there are some classics that people are yelling at the screen – Hush and Once More With Feeling, probably – but while they’re good, they didn’t really stick with me. The Body, the one where Buffy finds her mom dead of natural causes, was one that I considered pretty strongly. But, this one always stood out to me more than just about any other episode of the series. The episode follows many of the characters encountering dead people from their past in some form or another. Each character’s story is isolated from all of the others, and it’s the Buffy story in particular that stands out for me. She encounters a recently turned vampire who was a high school classmate of hers that she barely knew. The two stop fighting and reminisce about the past. It’s such a great twist on what would otherwise have been a fairly standard fight scene. It adds a touch of the mundane to this fantastic world that the show had created. I think it also stands out for me because I’d been out of high school for a few years by the time I watched it, and the nostalgia factor really registered for me at the time. I wonder if I watched it for the first time at my current age if it would have the same impact?
6) Star Trek – The City on the Edge of Forever
I know, I know, this is like saying that Citizen Kane is your favorite movie. It’s the cliche answer! But, in this case, the cliche is right! This is almost without a doubt the best episode of Star Trek the original series. It’s got all the hallmarks of the best Star Trek – Kirk, Spock and McCoy at the centre of the story, time travel, comedy, and heartbreak. If you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and correct that. Long story short, McCoy goes nuts, jumps through a time machine, Kirk and Spock go to rescue him, Kirk falls for a kind hearted lady in 1930s New York, and ultimately has to choose between her and history. Great stuff. Shatner has never been described as a subtle actor, but he gives probably the best performance of his career in this episode. You totally buy his romance with the Edith Keeler, the kind lady who helps them, and his final line of the episode – “Let’s get the hell out of here” – is said with just the right amount of regret. Man. So good. I want to rewatch it right now. Maybe I should’ve put this higher…
5) South Park – Scott Tenorman Must Die
When South Park first came on the air, the appeal was mostly in seeing crude drawings say and do crude things. That’s why I stayed up late to watch it so often when I was a kid. It was naughty! After a couple of seasons, it started to get a bit more sophisticated. These days, almost every episode has something to say about politics or pop culture. This episode, though, falls into a sweet spot between the two. It doesn’t really have anything to say, but it goes beyond simple crudeness for its jokes. The plot of the episode is that Cartman has been tricked by Scott Tenorman. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say it’s pretty gross. Cartman’s petty attempts to get revenge keep back firing. Until, that is, the episode ends with something so extreme it pushes Cartman beyond just being a petty jerk into something evil. It’s so dark, but also incredibly funny.
Graham Becksted is actually Kris Kristofferson with the IRS. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 101st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted